Mouth Bacteria may lead to Bowel Cancer: Studies

Two new studies conducted in the US indicate that fusobacteria, a bacteria that reside in the mouth of a person, has the potency to cause colorectal cancer commonly known as bowel cancer.

This bacterium tends to trigger overactive immune responses, which in turn, stimulates cancer growth gene. The latest studies thus help understand how fusobacteria is involved in tumor growth.

The Studies
The first study, conducted by researchers at Harvard, showed high levels of fusobacteria in adenomas. Adenomas are benevolent bowel growth but have high probability of becoming cancerous over a period of time.

“Fusobacteria may provide not only a new way to group or describe colon cancers but also, more importantly, a new perspective on how to target pathways to halt tumour growth and spread,” said Dr Wendy Garrett, lead author of Harvard study.

The second study which was carried out by scientists at Case Western Reserve University, established that the presence of a molecule called FadA on the surface of the fusobacteria assists the bacteria to join the colon cancer cells.

“We have proven there is an infectious component to colorectal cancer. We have shown that FadA is a marker that can be used for the early diagnosis of colorectal cancer and identified potential therapeutic targets to treat or prevent this common and debilitating disease,” said Prof Yiping Han who carried out the Case Western study.

Important for Treatment Decisions
While there are scores of microbes inside the human body which are helpful and thwart the occurrence of certain diseases, these two studies provide convincing evidence that fusobacteria may be harmful to human health.

Data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in United States reveals that colorectal cancer, which affects both men and women, is the second cause of cancer related deaths in the country.

The studies are significant as they may be used to guide treatment decision in the future.
“If larger studies confirm this work, a potential next step will be to develop tests to spot people at higher risk of bowel cancer or drugs that eradicate the effects of the bacteria,” averred Oliver Childs of Cancer Research UK .

The early findings of the studies have been published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe